Heir to Vestey fortune cleared of orchestrating riot in the City

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The Independent Online

The heir to the Vestey butchery fortune, who was accused of orchestrating the Stop the City demonstration last June, was cleared yesterday.

Mark Brown, 36, smiled as City of London magistrates found him not guilty of failing to give police notice of a public procession. Mr Brown had denied the charge, an offence under the Public Order Act of 1986, which carries a maximum fine of £1,000.

The demonstration led to riots that caused £2m of damage. More than 100 people including 45 police officers were injured. Mr Brown accepted that he had "networked a day of international action" and been responsible for "the production of information and propaganda in the run up to the event" of the 18 June anti-capitalist demonstration butAnthony Jennings, in his defence, said he had not organised the whole event.

Mr Jennings had earlier told the court: "You will be mindful of any concern that he's been scapegoated for what happened on that day. There must be a temptation that someone should be brought to book for what happened. It would be wholly wrong for the standard of proof to be diluted, even if that were a subconscious view."

Mr Brown, a former public schoolboy and the grandson of the Dewhurst butchery tycoon Sir Derek Vestey, shares a £2.7m trust fund and draws an income estimated at £44,000 a year . He lives in a £200,000 flat in Notting Hill, west London. Much of his time is dedicated to working with environmental, alternative, and "social justice" groups such as Corporate Watch and Reclaim the Streets.

He denied he had "gesticulated" to the crowd last June as if directing them, but admitted wearing a costume to "blend in" with City types. The City of London magistrate Simon Morrison told Mr Brown: "We are satisfied that you contributed in part to the demonstration namely by supplying the stereo system. But there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that you organised the march on that day, so we therefore find you not guilty."

The court had been told that, in the weeks leading up to the demonstration, Mr Brown paid £1,000 for a sound system and £1,400 for a car used to transport the stereo during the protest. He was also alleged to have said that water pistols filled with ketchup could be used to stop CCTV cameras filming the event. It was claimed he told friends that the protest would "bite the City with a flower in its teeth".